Fleming tosses her hat in ring for Congress

County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Southampton) announced today that she is seeking to unseat Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley).

Ms. Fleming was reelected to her seat as county legislator for the Second District, which includes Shelter Island, on Nov. 5 with nary a whisper of an upcoming campaign. But just weeks later, she released an announcement to backers and a notice on her website that she believes she is the best candidate to take on the two-term incumbent.

There are already two other Democrats seeking to unseat Mr. Zeldin: Perry Gershon of East Hampton, who came within four percentage points of beating the incumbent congressman in 2018; Nancy Goroff of East Setauket; and Independence candidate David Gokshtein of New York.

“Lee Zeldin has spent more time joining those who are circling their wagons around President Trump than he has looking out for your everyday concerns,” Ms. Fleming said in an email sent to potential campaign contributors.

She stressed that the candidacy is not about her but about the needs of small business owners working hard to make the rent; teachers molding future generations; veterans who need help navigating the bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration; construction workers wondering if they’ll have jobs next month; college students worried about their mounting tuition debts; seniors concerned with rising healthcare costs; and homeowners concerned that climate change will rob them of their treasured beaches.

“I’m going to be your champion,” Ms. Fleming said. “For too long our district’s been without one.”

In a Nov. 27 telephone interview, Ms. Fleming said she’s been thinking about the importance of wining the seat Mr. Zeldin holds, and after looking at her own solid numbers, and those of County Executive Steve Bellone on Election Night, she became convinced it was “achievable.”

Ms. Fleming won 60% of the vote Nov. 5 in her race for her county legislative seat, beating Republican Linda Kabot of Southampton. Mr. Bellone easily was returned as County Executive with 134,325 votes to Republican John Kennedy Jr.’s 107,601 and Greg Fischer’s 2,892.

“I am excited, very excited,” Ms. Fleming said about her decision to run for Congress.

Noting that she will have to run a primary race against two previously announced candidates — Mr. Gershon and Ms. Goroff — she said she believes she’s in the best position to win. At the same time, she said she has nothing but respect for the two who have stepped up to seek the nomination.

Her concentration in Washington would be the same as it’s been in the Suffolk County Legislature — strengthening environmental policies relating to clean water, climate change threats, renewable energy resources and improvements to infrastructure.

She would also push for Washington’s involvement in expanding public transportation; expanding affordable housing initiatives; and supporting businesses that can provide jobs that enable residents to live on Eastern Long Island. While her focus needs to be on the Congressional race, she pledged not to lose sight of similar efforts she said she has “aggressively championed” in the Suffolk County Legislature.

Mr. Gershon, an entrepreneur and businessman, emerged from a pack of some 10 candidates to carry the Democratic banner in the 2018 race. Although he officially announced his candidacy in April for the 2020 race, he really never stopped campaigning  remaining a constant critic of  Mr. Zeldin.

Mr. Gershon is campaigning on a platform to fight for good jobs, affordable health care, high quality education, clean air and water and renegotiation of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty.

Ms. Goroff, a Stony Brook University teacher for the past 22 years, is chairwoman of the university’s Chemistry Department. She’s a strong advocate for fighting climate change effects she has said are hurting “the place we love and the people we care about.”

She wants to make solar energy more affordable and attainable. During her tenure as chairwoman, she said the university received more than $22 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to fund two Energy Frontier Research Centers to develop new batteries for energy storage. Increasing renewable energy production and storage is vital to combating climate change, Ms. Goroff said.

Affordable for college graduates to return and find good paying jobs and reasonably priced housing is another of Ms. Gorcoff’s priorities.

Mr. Gokshtein, who plans a run on the Independence Party ticket, operates a multi-platform marketing company that includes Gokhshtein Magazine, an online subscription focused on fintech project reviews — computer programs and technology used to support banking and financial services; tech reviews; travel; insight; and lifestyle pieces.

He’s a member of the Forbes Finance Council and a contributing writer for Forbes Magazine. He hasn’t yet put out statements on issues.